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Q + A with Stephen Baker

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Stephen in his Studio with works from ‘After Hours.’ Photograph by Brook James.

The countdown is on, ‘After Hours’ by Stephen Baker opens tomorrow night! We hope you’ll be joining us for the opening.

In the lead-up to the exhibition Stephen was kind enough to chat with us about sketching girls in dive bars, finding colour inspiration in the trash and seeing the romance in solitary moments.

Tell us a little bit about ‘After Hours’, how did the series come to be?

After Hours is a continuation of a theme I’ve worked with for some time now involving girls and late night dive bars. I’m trying to capture the solitude one can have, the escape from the outside world for a few hours at these venues. They don’t always have to be bars, I find the same romantic notion in a hotel lobby or airport lounges. I get a great sense of one’s self in the world when I’m seated at a quiet bar- hotel rooms and airports have the same affect on me. Maybe it’s the reflective mood these locations create, I always seem to just sit back and watch the world when I’m in either of these places. I think I feel free from the daily grind and a sense of excitement and freedom all rolled into one. I enjoy trying to capture this mood within my works, there a reference of a feeling, something that can be used as medicine or treatment when needed.

What attracts you to sketch your subjects? Do you think they ever aware they are being sketched?

I’d have to say it’s about a 50/50 split between actually being there sketching a subject or taking a mental or actual photograph. I actually sketch scenes that seem to capture a real life act I guess, something that’s everyday and not hard to relate to. In saying that, the latest works are very much scenes I’ve put together in my head based on relatively believable situations. I felt these scenes had to be created and orchestrated outside of reality to capture the exact moment and feeling I wanted to portray.

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Stephen in his studio with sketchbook. Photograph by Brook James

How does your experience as a graphic designer influence the way you work as a painter?

Quite a lot actually! I spend a lot of time on the computer when piecing together shows and also creating colour palettes. I like to work through various palettes before settle on what I feel is the best for the work, I can only do that by using a computer. I don’t always work this way either, I’ll chop and change depending on how many works are being created. My background in design has definitely allowed me to be more proficient with my painting. Also with the idea that graphic design focuses on conveying a simple and bold message- I too am painting with a very stripped back minimalist approach, much like a graphic designer. But that’s being fairly generalised in regards to the design industry.

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Studio detailsYour colour selection is beautiful, tell us about how you choose the palette to work with?

I choose most of my palettes from studying Pantone Reference books and also putting together palettes on the computer. I usually have a key pop colour, then mix in my mids and then throw in a couple of sharp darks to give depth where needed. Sometimes I’ll stumble across amazing palettes on my walks to the studio, it could be colourful signage or trash in the gutter! I’ll always take a snap shot on my phone and keep it for reference later.

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Works from the ‘After Hours’ Exhibition. L-R ‘Smoking At Bar, Part 1’ and ‘Smoking At Bar, Part 2’.

How do you see your work evolving? Do you see yourself working on a larger scale again like your work at the Fitzroy pool mural?

Oh I’m always on the hunt for mural work, I love working on larger projects. Being outdoors and up a ladder painting is always fun, except in winter… but even then. I have a few larger projects that will take me away from the canvas this year, one involving a large 2.5 metre fibreglass kangaroo.

We can’t wait to have Stephen’s beautiful paintings hanging in-store and will be delighted to share them with you over the next two weeks!

‘After Hours’ By Stephen Baker opens at Modern Times on Thursday 23rd April from 6-8pm kindly sponsored by Vale Brewing.The exhibition will run until 7th May at Modern Times on Smith Street, all paintings are available to view online. For any enquries please call Modern Times on (03) 9913 8698 or email us [email protected]8, MT_INVITE_OL-01_blog

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